An architects’ paradise at the coast as builders try to outdo each other

Wednesday May 13 2015

This is Crest Apartments, a new building coming up in Mombasa. Clearly, the stakes have been upped. PHOTO | COURTESY

This is Crest Apartments, a new building coming up in Mombasa. Clearly, the stakes have been upped. PHOTO | COURTESY 

By ALLAN OLINGO
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Mombasa’s real estate landscape is changing as luxury developments slowly spring up along the coastline and developers cash in on the region’s world-acclaimed beaches. 

A cursory look at new developments such Vipingo Ridge, English Point Marina, Ocean Seven and the latest kid on the block, Crest Apartments, leaves one with no doubt that the property offerings at the coast are changing for the better, and as a result attracting world-class architecture and clientele.

When the English Point Marina was launched at the coast five years ago, it was the first of its kind in the region. Some people whispered that, given the enormity of the promise and the work at hand, the coast may never live to see the coming of age of this new baby.

They were wrong, because next month English Point Marina is expected to open its doors to the public, marking a grand, luxurious entry into Kenya’s — and the region’s — property and tourism market.

FIVE-STAR MARINA

Designed by award winning architects Broadway Malyan, the Sh3.85 billion development boasts a fully serviced five-star marina capable of mooring 80 to 100 boats, the first of its kind in the region.

Broadway Malyan is a United Kingdom-based architectural firm celebrated for having won more than 200 awards since 1987. Among its most famous creations is the St George Wharf Tower in London, billed as one of the most significant additions to London’s skyline in recent times.

English Point Marina along the Tudor creek provides a spectacular and picturesque view of the entire Mombasa old town with Fort Jesus being the focal point. The complex will also house a 26-room hotel, spa, gym, a five star international marina, water sports centre, restaurants and an underground parking for about 200 vehicles. PHOTO | FILE

English Point Marina along the Tudor creek provides a spectacular and picturesque view of the entire Mombasa old town with Fort Jesus being the focal point. The complex will also house a 26-room hotel, spa, gym, a five star international marina, water sports centre, restaurants and an underground parking for about 200 vehicles. PHOTO | FILE

The value of individual units at the marina project, the brainchild of businessman Alnoor Kanji, has almost doubled since construction started.

When earthmovers roared into the site just a few months ago, the off-plan purchase price for the apartments averaged Sh50 million while the penthouses were valued at Sh150 million. The current selling price is Sh80 million for the apartments and Sh180 million for the penthouses.

Real estate valuer Charles Mwangi thinks it is all about the luxury promised by the developers and the uniqueness of what this development, and the many others around the country offering different promises, put on the table.

“When you look at the marina, for example, the possibility of docking your yacht, having a celebrity as a neighbour, and having international boat races within your estate makes the monied fellows buy into the project, and it is that unique feeling that the developers are cashing in on,” Mr Mwangi says.

Mr Nasir Ali, the developer of Crest Apartments, is riding on that luxury wave as he puts up a development designed as a dhow just a few kilometres away from English Point, at Kizingo on the other side of Mombasa Town.

Mr Ali says he hopes the development will rewrite the history of Mombasa through its fine architecture and 24 floors, making it the tallest building in Mombasa and the entire coastal region.

“When we were engaging the architects we told them to bring in the true feeling of the coast. That’s how we ended up with a dhow design by the beach. The apartments will also maximise the view of the Kilindini creek for residents,” Mr Ali says.

RIDING THE WAVE

The development is designed by Symbion Architects and offers a mix of the ancient and modern coast. Upon its completion in 2018, it will have gobbled up about Sh1.5 billion. The cheapest unit, a three-bedroom apartment, is expected to retail at Sh40 million.

Symbion architects are behind other unique projects in Kenya, including the 14 Riverside building in Nairobi’s Kileleshwa neighbourhood.

The proposed complex in Mombasa is expected to have 67 high-end apartments and will feature two towers that link with each other at different floor elevations. Tower One will rise from the ground to 16th floor, in tandem with Tower Two, which will then be constructed for a further eight levels to attain a maximum height of 24 floors.

“With this kind of luxury and amenities, we are targeting those who would want to have a feel of the coastline from the skies. It’s all about delivering a different product to a niche market,” Mr Ali explains.

“The architects have also included a 16th-floor swimming pool, the first in the coastal region at that level.”

Mr Moses Mwakio, a real estate agent, says investors are finally beginning to discover what Mombasa has to offer, given that the entire Kizingo area and the coastline after it, all the way to Tudor, “is a goldmine for real estate investors”.

“They have the advantage of the ocean view, the ships passage and the creek,” says Mr Mwakio.

Another development that is creating a buzz here is the Ocean Seven development at the former Sun ’N Sand Hotel grounds. The project was designed by Arup, a global firm of service engineers, designers and consultants who are behind some of the world’s architectural masterpieces such as the Sydney Opera House and Beijing Olympic Stadium.

Vipingo ridge which is irrigated with recycled and rain water. Safarilink Aviation this week announced that from July 1 this year the company will start daily flights from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport into the Vipingo Ridge airstrip.  The service will not be limited to persons staying at Vipingo Ridge. PHOTO | COURTESY

Vipingo ridge which is irrigated with recycled and rain water. Safarilink Aviation this week announced that from July 1 this year the company will start daily flights from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport into the Vipingo Ridge airstrip. The service will not be limited to persons staying at Vipingo Ridge. PHOTO | COURTESY

Once complete, the development will give its residents a 180-degree ocean-front view. According to director Mahmud Visram, every aspect of Ocean Seven has been designed to enhance quality of life, setting new standards for luxury living in Kenya.

The Indian Ocean and its pristine sandy beaches is a perfect backdrop to life at Ocean Seven. The development will have seven towers that include two commercial blocks and five residential ones. The architectural design of the project shows that the seven towers will vary in height from 17, 19, and 25 storeys, with every unit having a direct view of the ocean.

The towers will take a V formation in three levels, with two parallel 17-floor towers, two 19-floor towers, and a centerpiece tower that will reach a height of 25 floors. The penthouse on the 25th floor will be the ultimate deal in the development.

“It is the appetite for unique and luxurious developments that is driving players within the industry to be very innovative,” says Mr Visram. 

FRINGE BENEFITS

The Managing Director of Safarilink Aviation, Mr John Buckley,  this week announced that from July 1 this year the company will start daily flights from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport into the Vipingo Ridge airstrip.

The service will not be limited to persons staying at Vipingo Ridge but will provide an alternative to Malindi or Moi International airports.

Vipingo Ridge’s  1.5-kilometre private airstrip allows easy access to and from the estate, making it just an hour’s flight from Nairobi.